In the Spotlight!
This section features performers, flute makers, scholars, educators, and flute enthusiasts. Periodically, a new person or persons is highlighted! Here, we feature those who are established in their profession, as well as those who are up-and-coming or just starting out. This is the place to see who's who and who is new on the scene!
Instrument maker Keith Glowka, Buffalo Moon Flutes, specializes in producing musical instruments that are both rare and historical in nature. Keith lives in the scenic Texas Hill Country and is a lifelong resident of the Lone Star State. Before his retirement from a long career as an elementary school teacher, Keith began working on his passion of making musical instruments. Keith’s flute making specializes in versions of a medieval European instrument known as the gemshorn.
Keith began his journey as a flute maker in his late teens, with an abundance of spare time and plenty of available bamboo. Much of his early work concentrated on transverse flutes tuned in a hunt-and-peck process that Native American flute enthusiasts might call “grandfather tuning.” His instrument building continued as a hobby until the early 1990s and included different flutes, kalimbas, electric dulcimers, and fiddles, to name a few.
Keith’s work took a more focused turn in 1991, when he was given a book on making folk instruments. One instrument in particular, the gemshorn, caught his attention. The gemshorn, a flute in the ocarina family, is made of an animal horn, traditionally the horn of a chamois. The cow’s horn flute shown in the book had accompanying instructions for building it, but the result yielded a poorly-tuned diatonic flute. Over the years, Keith refined his skills in gemshorn making, settling on American bison horns as the material and precisely tuning them to the pentatonic scale used for most Native American style flutes. The gemshorn sound is often described as haunting. Keith also produces flutes made from cow horns, springbok antelope horns, and other materials.
Several years ago, Keith returned to working with ceramics, an art he had discontinued 25 years earlier. Building off of his experience on the potter’s wheel, he began making molds to produce udus, a ceramic drum of Nigeria. Percussionist, Will Clipman, introduced Keith to the udu. His pit firing work with ceramic flute maker, John Kulias, inspired the natural finish on his udus. Keith now finishes his udus by saggar firing, a process in which the finished pot is packed into a steel container with various natural materials and placed in a gas kiln for firing. The udus are saggar fired one at a time. Keith explains, “Saggar firing is wildly natural and unpredictable. You can pack and fire the kiln the same exact way two times, but the udus will have completely different appearances. That fire has a mind of its own!”
Keith Glowka continues to work with a variety of other instrument types, including stringed instruments. However, the bulk of his business involves bison gemshorns, udus, and ceramic didgeridoos. Keith’s instruments are used by a number of recording artists including Will Clipman, Mark Holland, N. Scott Robinson, Gentle Thunder, Jan Seiden, and Cornell Kinderknecht. The sound quality of his instruments is paramount to Keith. In fact, he worked on gemshorns for 13 years before being satisfied enough with the sound to offer them for sale. Still, Keith continues to learn from and improve his methods.
Keith Glowka will be one of the vendors at this summer’s 2014 World Flute Society convention in Eau Claire, Wisconsin. Visit Keith on the Internet at: www.buffalomoonflutes.com
Winne Clement is a flute maker and performer from Belgium, specializing in the fujara, overtone flutes, single and double shepherd flutes and whistles, Moldavian kavals, Native American-style flutes, and various experimental flutes.
All of Winne’s instruments are crafted by hand with great care and dedication, always in search of the ultimate sound and character of each individual flute. Making and playing flutes is his life's passion, and he values and cherishes each flute that leaves the workshop, making its journey through life helping to enlighten existence in its own way.
All of Winne’s flutes are made of hand-harvested branches of local inland wood such as ash, elder, maple, and hazel. The wood is carefully chosen and cut in the winter time - with respect for the environment, not damaging the donating trees - and put to dry for a long period of time. When making the flute, the wood is never split in half to hollow it out; rather, it is hand-drilled with special old forged drills, leaving the main structure of the wood intact which allows the natural curves of the wood to remain and benefits the overall sound.
About the flute making process, Winne says: "The pleasure I get from shaping materials, imbuing them with soulful sounds and creating something that expresses a totally unique individuality and character, gives to me my ultimate satisfaction in life. I am fascinated by the path that an instrument takes, from being a branch on a tree in the woods, to becoming a "living" instrument that becomes someone's musical partner for life. Somehow, I consider myself to be more of a painter or sculptor of sound and form, than a musician or a maker of musical instruments."
Winne continues, "As a flute maker, my connection with nature is very strong, especially with the bushes and trees from which I hand-harvest each winter. This way of handling wood and living together with the wood - my house is completely filled with branches that are being cured - is such a source of happiness to me. This way of existing feels so true and pure, that it would be wrong for me to use any chemical products in the flute-making process."
Winne’s flutes are made without any glue, when he can avoid it, and all parts are held together by tension. He uses a natural shellac-based varnish (natural resin) for the surface finish. Winne chooses to only work with hand tools, and he does not use machines except for a drill. Not only is this a much safer way of working, the slow working process that results from using hand tools is also very enjoyable to him. To Winne, hand tools do not make unpleasant noises, and crafting instruments with hand tools allows him to put more character and soul into the instruments that he creates. Small imperfections put in the right place can create great beauty and personality, thereby making it perfect once again. Winne believes that this is a true wonder and one of the characteristics of beauty in general.
A great flute maker once told Winne, "When made with dedication, they [flutes] become a balm for the heart when played."
Winne Clement will present a class and perform on the Afternoon Concert Series at the 2014 World Flute Society Convention, July 16-20, 2014, at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire.
Visit Winne on the Internet at: www.fujaraflutes.com
Ronnie Nyogetsu Reishin Seldin
Ronnie Nyogetsu Reishin Seldin studied shakuhachi in Kyoto, Japan, with Kurahashi Yodo Sensei, who was a disciple of Jin Nyodo. There, in 1975, he received the name Nyogetsu and a teaching certificate at the level of Jun Shihan in the Kinko School of Shakuhachi.
After his return to New York, Nyogetsu was awarded the rank of Shi-han (Master) in 1978, as a result of his efforts to spread the teaching of this instrument in America.
In 1980, Nyogetsu received his Dai-Shihan, or Grand Master's license. In April 2001, he received a Koku-An Dai-Shihan (Grand Master's license at the level of Kyu-Dan, or 9th level) from Japan's Living National Treasure in shakuhachi, Aoki Reibo. He was also given the name Reishin (Heart/Mind of the Bell) to go along with it. Nyogetsu is the first non-Japanese to receive this high award.
Nyogetsu has performed in numerous concerts, lectures, and demonstrations in the metropolitan area and around the United States, as well as Canada, Mexico, Scotland, and Argentina. Not only has he toured Japan many times, he has also been interviewed on radio and television both here and in Japan, and has performed on the soundtracks of several documentary films including the Academy Award nominated documentary A Family Gathering (1989), for which he also co-composed the soundtrack. Nyogetsu's playing also appears on the GRAMMY-nominated, The Planet Sleeps (SONY).
Ronnie Nyogetsu Reishin Seldin has released several recordings of shakuhachi music including cassettes, LPs, and CDs. He is the founder of Ki-sui-an Shakuhachi Dojo with branches in Manhattan, Rochester/Syracuse, Ithaca, Philadelphia, and Baltimore/Washington D.C. In addition to teaching privately, Nyogetsu is also part of the Japanese Music Program at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York (CUNY) where he gives shakuhachi lectures and demonstrations. He is also on the faculty at New York University (NYU). His shakuhachi school, KiSuiAn Shakuhachi Dojo, has been the largest and most active in the world outside of Japan for the past three decades. More than twenty of his students have received instructor and master titles from him, and two have received grand master titles.
Ronnie Nyogetsu Reishin Seldin was Artist in Residence during Fall 2002 at the College of William & Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia. Nyogetsu was the university Artist in Residence at New York University in the spring of 2004. In 2004, he produced the Fourth International World Shakuhachi Festival at New York University, which proved to be the largest gathering of non-Japanese shakuhachi players in history.
Mr. Seldin will give an evening performance, a lecture demonstration class, and private lessons at the 2014 World Flute Society Convention at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, June 16-20, 2014.
To learn more about Ronnie Nyogetsu Reishin Seldin, please visit: www.nyogetsu.com
Cornell Kinderknecht is an award-nominated world flute and woodwind performer, recording artist, and teacher. He has twice been a finalist for “Musician of the Year” at the Texas Music Awards for his solo world flute albums of original music, Returning Home and Nightfall. His music has been heard in films, television soundtracks, and advertising. In addition to his solo albums, Cornell’s playing can be heard on the recordings of many other artists, across many genres. The same can be said in live performance – while he is known for his reputation as a solo artist, he is also a popular guest musician with numerous performers and ensembles in genres including world, folk, jazz, pop, and classical.
Cornell has been a musician nearly his entire life, growing up in a large musical household in Ellis, Kansas, with a family band where he learned through “playing by ear” and improvisation. His first public performance was at age 10, and he was “gigging” regularly by age 14, primarily on saxophone, piano, and electric bass. At the same time, he pursued classical music lessons and a formal music education. After receiving a college degree in software engineering, he remained in school and finished an Applied Music degree in woodwind performance, where he worked with all five of the Western major woodwinds: oboe, bassoon, flute, saxophone and clarinet. Cornell feels that he has been very fortunate to experience music through both the improvisatory/make-your-own and classical approaches, in such a positive way from a young age in environments that encouraged curiosity, discovery, and creativity. Through all of this, he performed in many capacities: pop bands, folk bands, big bands, symphony orchestras, theater orchestras, chamber ensembles, and so on, leading to a very diverse and rewarding musical experience.
Cornell pursued his career as a software engineer after graduating with his second degree, but music remained a passion. A gift of two Persian neys from an Iranian co-worker, followed shortly by playing a Native American flute while at a classical flute convention, began his passion with world flutes. He found that the Dallas area has an active Native American flute circle, and several flute makers live in the area, as well. At the time, a 4-day Native American flute retreat was held annually in the area. There, Cornell met Dr. Richard Payne, Michael Graham Allen (Coyote Oldman), and Peter Phippen. Peter encouraged Cornell to “just do it” when it came to finding his own way incorporating all of his musical experiences into a unique style. Peter also suggested that Cornell check into the bansuri, which became a favorite for Cornell. Bill Tucker, director of that flute retreat and flute mentor to many flute players in Texas, encouraged Cornell to teach Native American and world flutes. He stated that Cornell would have a unique perspective being able to teach this instrument as an instrument that one can “find your own way with,” while gently incorporating his experience from classical, pop, and other musical genres.
In addition to his busy performance schedule, Cornell is now a highly respected teacher of Native American and world flutes. He created an ongoing series of group Native American flute classes, with sessions ranging from complete beginners to experienced players. He has a private studio where he teaches Native American, world, and classical flute to students, as well as many online students through Skype. He is a regular performer and presenter at music festivals and workshops across the United States. His masterclasses are very popular. His light-hearted style of teaching puts students at ease, while they find the joy in creating music. For the past several years, Cornell has been a regular member of the leadership team/faculty of the Pacific Northwest Native American Flute Gathering in Vashon Island, Washington, and the Zion Canyon Native Flute School in Springdale, Utah.
Cornell’s hope is that he can help others to find the joy in music, an experience that he has been fortunate to have his whole life. Regardless of one’s level of playing or experience, whether you read music or create it as you feel it, music can be a form of self-expression that can be transforming to both the musician and to those that they encounter. Bring a little bit of curiosity with you and a willingness to try. You can make such an impact on life, as well as discovering something wonderful about yourself.
To learn more about Cornell, his music, his schedule, and his discography, please visit: www.cornellk.com
Dr. Paula Conlon
Patricia Deisenroth Presidential Professor
School of Music, University of Oklahoma
Dr. Paula Conlon has been studying indigenous music and dance of North America since the mid-1980s when she wrote her master's thesis on the Canadian Amerindian flute and its music. Since moving to Norman in 1996 to teach at the University of Oklahoma (OU), Paula has participated in a variety of Native gatherings, and she incorporates these first-hand experiences into her publications, presentations, and classes. Grounded in personal interviews with Native culture bearers, her publications include articles, book chapters, and encyclopedia entries on the Native flute, Native flutists, and the Native flute revival. At OU’s School of Music, Paula teaches graduate and undergraduate courses on Native American and world music, and serves as coordinator for the university’s Native American music program.
In 1996 Paula met and became close friends with renowned Native flute collector and maker Dr. Richard W. “Doc” Payne (1917-2004). The trek to the “flute house” in Oklahoma City became a regular outing whenever he called, saying, “there’s someone here I want you to meet.” In 2002, Paula and Doc Payne co-taught a series of Native flute classes with Comanche flutist Edmond Nevaquaya and Kiowa flutist Terry Tsotigh at the Jacobson House Native Art Center in Norman. The participants wanted to keep meeting after the mini-course was over, and Paula became co-founder of Oklahoma’s first Native American flute circle. In 2010, the Oklahoma Native American Flute Circle co-hosted the inaugural Native flute festival at Medicine Park, Oklahoma, and the circle continues to meet on a monthly basis on first Fridays at Jacobson House. Flute circle members frequently perform at local and regional events.
Living in her research area, home base for over 60 tribes forcibly removed to Indian Territory in the nineteenth century from across the country, has been a transforming experience for Paula, both professionally and personally. Arriving with a decided preference for traditional (i.e. “old”) Native music, she soon developed an equal appreciation and admiration for the ongoing creative work of contemporary Native artists. Discussions on the Native flute with Doc Payne, performing artists and flute makers, and fellow enthusiasts at workshops and retreats in effect changed Paula’s identity, morphing from Western silver flute performer (her original musical training) to Native flute player, composer, and improviser. What a gift to have one’s profession and one’s passion evolve to share the same space in one’s head and in one’s heart!
Paula successfully applied for a year’s sabbatical in 2013 to devote herself to see writing projects on Native performing artists and their role in the Native flute revival through to completion, along with advocating for continued preservation and promotion of the Native flute and its music. This spring she agreed to teach “Flute Basics with Paula Conlon” in the hour preceding the monthly flute circle meeting at Jacobson House, and added “How to play Native flute” workshops to the roster for her off-campus presentations. Using a matched set of high B cedar flutes commissioned from Muscogee Creek flute maker Leroy Cully, Paula derives great pleasure at her workshops watching others discover how they too can learn to play the Native flute and create their own music.
Please visit Dr. Paula Conlon on the Internet: www.paulaconlon.com
Photograph by: Scott Brown of Dream Wolf Photography